Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds has still got it. The famed singer and legendary producer, 64, helped kick off the Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, Feb. 12 with “America The Beautiful.” Just as he teased days earlier, he opted for a stripped down version with just a guitar as he showed off his incredible vocal and musical talent. He also opted for what appeared to be a custom guitar with the American flag and flowers for the occasion. Babyface kept his outfit simple with a black suit and sunglasses for the performance.
Ahead of performing on Sunday’s big game the Indiana native revealed he “can’t believe” he was asked to be a part of the festivities. “It’s crazy,” he added to Entertainment Tonight. “The whole thing is that I have to think…’What kind of arrangement are you going to do? Do you want [there] to be a choir? Do you want this? Do you want to be urban?” he questioned, teasing the performance — which will happen before the game starts and ahead of Rihanna’s highly anticipated Super Bowl Half Time performance.
“I just thought the best way for me to do it is to just pick up my guitar and sing it the way I would have sung it when I was a kid,” the dad of three then shared with the outlet, spilling he ultimately wanted to “keep it simple and heartfelt.”
Performing at the Super Bowl also has a special place in the producer’s heart due to losing his mother Barbara Jean Edmonds in 2012, who raised him as a single mom after the death of his father as a child. “I’m just honored to be a part of it, it’s gonna be an experience. I wish my mom was here to see it but she’ll see it from above,” he said. “It’s not something I was looking to do…It wasn’t on the bucket list. It wasn’t anything planned. It’s something I know my mom just wouldn’t believe it…it’s a huge honor. I’m taking it very seriously and [will] do my best.”
Babyface is best known for his award-winning work of the 90s, which was largely under LaFace Records which he co-founded with L.A. Reid. As a duo, the pair worked with Toni Braxton, TLC and Usher, just to name a few —including TLC’s career-defining album CrazySexyCool, as well as Toni’s self-titled debut and follow-up Secrets. Through his lengthy career, Babyface earned 12 GRAMMY Awards as well as 26 number one hits in the R&B category. Other icons Babyface produced over the years include Janet Jackson, Madonna, Beyonce, Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, Ariana Grande and many, many more.
He initially got his start performing in the late ‘70s, when he met funk legend Bootsy Collins who dubbed Kenneth with his nickname “Babyface” — which has stuck to this day.